Salvation… The process.. ( Canticle of Isaiah 2/6)

” God indeed is my salvation.  I am confident and unafraid for the Lord is my strength  and my might and He has been my salvation “!

In all of Christendom there are a variety of viewpoints and the subject of salvation.  This is typically a subject that the average person many not even spend a great deal of time thinking about or considering.  If we dig into the subject a bit we find that there are both small nuances and in some cases huge differences in opinions and views of salvation.

” Are you saved” ?  This is an interesting question.  In one Protestant view this begs a historical question.  Depending on which protestant brother or sister you speak with there is a belief that their salvation occurred either at their baptism or at the point at which they accepted Jesus into their lives as Lord and Saviour.  This question to a protestant sounds normal, not really strange at all, even at some points expected.

To a Catholic however, this question sounds odd or weird and may not quite be sure how to answer that question, since in the Catholic view, it makes no sense at all.  Possibly even may seem somewhat antagonistic if couched in a way where the person who is asking the question may believe that the person who is hearing the question, might need some direction in their lives.

There are also some who believe that salvation is something that happens as a future event.  The problem with both these views is that salvation is a process, not an event.  Not only is it a process, but like a jewel, it has facets, or dimensions, or characteristics if you will.

Like many other processes, this means that there are past, present and future events, a continuum, to its ultimate conclusion.  T make this point we need to turn to history, and scripture.

There is a past – “When we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ  it is through grace that you have been saved ” ( Ephesians 2:5). This is where a number of people stop, but there is more !

Then there is the present – “You do not see Him, yet you love Him: and still without seeing him you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it can not be described, because you believe ; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is the salvation of your souls”.  (1 Peter 8-9).

” So then my dear friends continue to do as I tell you , as you  always have, now only as you did when I was with you but even more now that I am no longer there, and work for your salvation in fear and trembling” ( Philippians 2:12 ).

Lastly there is a future – To show the process is yet on going, there is this –

” You mist awake now, Our salvation is even nearer than it was when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).

And

” When you were assembled together in the name of the Lord Jesus, and I am spiritually present with you , then with the power of the Lord Jesus, e is to be handed over to Satan, so that His sensual body may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the last day” (1 Corinthians 5:5).

All of these passages show a continuation from past history to our own glorious salvation through Jesus.

Lets look into some of the processes contained within salvation.  These would include : forgiveness, redemption, Justification, and sanctification.

Forgiveness, mean pardon, or remission of the offenses, where sin is not just ignored, but removed from the soul.

Justification-  Process of the sinner being made right with God. Again true removal of the sin.

Sanctification – Being made holy.

Redemption – To free or buy back.  Humanity was held in sin since Satan overcame humanity by inducing them to sin, they were said to be in bondage as a debt of punishment.  The Passion of Christ was sufficient and super abundant satisfaction for that debt of humanity.  That is why His Passion is called Humanity’s Redemption  ( From Fr John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary )

Up to this point we have talked in general terms about salvation and put it under a bit of a microscope but we have not really hit the nail on the head so to speak.  Its fine to look at these things from a 3rd person perspective but the real question is what does that mean for me ?  I know its a process and I know when the process ends, as the end goal of salvation is to be with God in Heaven, but where does this process start ?  THAT is another question entirely.

Lets take the case of Dismas. Dismas was one of the two robbers who were crucified with Jesus.  Dismas said, “Jesus, he said, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Indeed I promise you, he replied, today you will be with me in paradise” ( Luke 22:43 ).

Now, Dismas began his process of salvation on the cross.  He made a profession of FAITH !   He received the beginning of his process of salvation literally just before he died.  No time for a sacramental baptism per se.  He received the gift of faith.    OK, here is where it gets  interesting… The Sacrament of Baptism is what is called the sacrament of initiation.  The sacrament is the point at which the catechumen after a journey  of preparation enters into the Body of Christ, the Church.

Now comes the other side of the coin..” I sell you  most solemnly, unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he can not enter the kingdom of God.” ( John 3:14 ).  So you can’t receive salvation without Baptism ?

But wait.. what about Dismus ? Dismas was a special case.  It is what we refer to commonly as a Baptism of Desire.  In special circumstances when a person did not have the ability to be baptized, but have faith, they are entrusted to God’s loving mercy and can attain salvation.

 

Now, having reviewed all this, it bares saying that when dealing with some subjects are are so lofty, and so weighty as salvation is, or any subject within the theological realm, it is easy to get caught up in the academia and loose focus on the simplicity of the relationship we have with our God and our brothers and sisters.  A priest once remarked, that if you want to know Jesus you need to read scripture, and particularly the Gospels ( Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ).  Study is indeed necessary, but it should never be at the cost of relationships.

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